The funny thing about growth is that it happens whether you’re ready for it or not. Even if you’re standing completely still, it’s all around you and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Every day, flowers are sprouting, baby birds are leaving the nest, stalagmites are getting taller millimeter by millimeter. A radish grows from a seed to a full plant in less than three weeks. Who is it showing off for?
Even surrounded by all of this growth, I’ve been feeling stagnant lately. So when I think about the idea of growth, it’s hard for me to pinpoint any Big Important Milestones to write about. But growth doesn’t always need to be big and important. Most of the time it’s totally mundane. A year ago I couldn’t drive on the interstate without feeling like I was about to burst into tears, and now I can. My hair is longer, my bookshelf is fuller, my roster of people I can send dumb tweets to has expanded by at least two. Those things might not be milestones, but they’re sort of highway markers. Little reminders that I’m further along than I used to be. I might not be keeping pace with the radishes of the world, but I’m growing too.
Maybe it’s my pessimism, but to me, growth goes hand-in-hand with envy. And envy is a feeling I’m very familiar with. There is almost a competitive aspect to growth. We all want to be the most successful, put-together, and fully-formed versions of ourselves ---- and for many of us, just being perceived like we have it all together is enough.
I wish I could tell myself to stop comparing myself to my peers, but it’s hard. Everyone is successful in ways I wish I could be, or at least that’s how they project themselves online, and who am I to question them?
I have to keep reminding myself that growth fluctuates ---- who I may have wanted to shape myself into yesterday is not the same person I want to shape myself into today. My growth isn't linear, most days it’s an un-Instagrammable jumbled mess, but I’m learning to be okay with that.